Priceless Woman Ministries
Julia M. Faulkner
Gossip . . . it is something we are all guilty of doing. There are no exceptions, although some participate in it more than others. If we are to get to the root of the sin of gossip, I believe that we would have to examine many things. The purpose of this study is to expose why gossip is a sin, why you do it, and what you can do about it. In my own life, the Lord has shown me much in the area of "running my mouth", what I consider "sharing", and just plain old talking about folks. I hope that what I am going to write to you will help you break that evil, sinful habit of gossip.
Ephesians 4: 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
How often have you found yourself really angry with someone because they had wronged you in some way? Usually your first thought is to call up a friend and tell them all about it? You just have to tell whoever will listen this great travesty that's been committed against you! We call it everything but what it is! Gossip, born by vengeance and wrath, all done in the name of "talking out" your angry, hurt feelings, "sharing" with everybody but the Lord. Call it what you will but it is still sin! Usually talking about the person who has offended you is your way of "getting back" at them. You just have to let others know what a terrible, awful person they are!
We are never to seek revenge when we are wronged because it belongs to God! Romans 12: 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.. Oh, if we could but only heed this! How much simpler and peaceful our lives could be. Does God tell us that wrath is wrong? Not specifically, instead He tells us to give it it's proper place and to leave the vengeance up to Him because it rightfully belongs to Him. However, if you do not handle it in the proper, Biblical manner, it is a sin.
Let's take a look at what a few words, then we will compare that with some scripture. Wrath is "violent anger" and vengeance is "punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offence". To be violent is to be "marked by extreme force or sudden intense activity; furious or vehement to the point of being improper, unjust, or illegal; extreme, intense; tending to distort or misrepresent".
At this point I see many violations of God's word here, just from the definitions of these few words.
We are allowed several paths when faced with offense from someone. First and foremost, forgiveness. Matthews 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Then, we are to be kind to that person, feeding him if he's hungry, giving him drink if he thirsts. Romans 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Have you ever suffered the shame of having treated somebody badly only to have them come back and heap coals of fire on your head? Finally, we are to do our earnest to keep peace. Romans 12: 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
I find that for myself, I have a difficult time obeying God by blessing, loving, and praying for those who have wronged me. Matthew 5: 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. You see, God loves those who have wronged us and He wants you to love them too! The publicans, hypocrites that they were, loved those who loved them and saluted only their brethren. Our reward comes not from loving our loved ones and saluting only the brethren, but in loving our enemies, blessing them that curse us, doing good to them that hate us, and praying for those who use and persecute us. And not only is our reward in not recompensing evil for evil, but by following God's plan in dealing with those who have wronged us, we will be made perfect just like our Heavenly Father.
If you and I are to become more like Him, if we are to become mature Christians, then we must realize a few things. We cannot let our flesh rule our lives! Galatians 5: 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. There is a constant war going on within and without, struggling to gain control. Galatians 5: 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if we follow the leading of the Spirit as He convicts our hearts not open our mouths against others because they have hurt us, then the flesh cannot have it's way.
A mature Christian is one who becomes more and more like the Father. One way of doing this is to treat your enemies and those who trespass against you in the way in which the Father has treated you. How so? Well, consider if you will what God did for you. Romans 5: 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. When we were yet sinners, God exhibited His love to us by sending His Son to die for our sin. Romans 5: 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Because of our sin, we were enemies of God. But He loved us who trespassed against Him, forgiving us who cursed Him, doing good to those who hated Him. The way to become a perfect (mature) Christian? Follow the example of God our Father.
Indeed, it is hard to keep from falling into our old ways, following after the paths of the old man. Romans 6: 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. But we are told not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies, obeying the lusts of the flesh. Neither are we to yield the members of our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness. Instead we should yield ourselves to God, as instruments of righteousness.
Before you received Christ, you couldn't help but sin because it was your nature to do that. There was within you a body of sin. However, as soon as you believed on Jesus Christ and became born again, that body of sin was destroyed (Read Romans 6) and you received the Spirit of God, which is the new creature. At that point, you were given power to overcome your sin. Sin in the life of a believer is always a choice, unlike before salvation occurred. It's a lie for a Christian to say of their sin "I just couldn't help myself". You can help yourself because you have the Holy Spirit of God living in you, giving you the means to control your sin.
Have you ever noticed during a time when you were going to "share" some news, burden, etc. with another person that a still small voice out right told you not to do it? Or when you just had to tell somebody how that someone offended you or trespassed against you, that God, through His Spirit living in you, convicted you, telling you not to say anything? How often has this happened to you (and me!), but you grieve the Spirit, disobey God, and tell it anyway? There is no "I can't help it" anymore in your life, because God, through His Spirit, warned you not to commit that sin. You have no excuse.
Consider this interesting thought I had about being violent. When you or I exhibit this type of behaviour, there is a lack of the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. When violence is present and wrath is not given it's proper place, there is an absence of longsuffering , but especially temperance (self-control).
How can we give place to our wrath so as not to become out of control? 1 Peter 5: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. God cares for you and He will take all of your care upon Himself. Philippians 4: 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. To be careful for nothing means not to be anxious about anything. Instead, take it to the Lord in prayer, make your requests made known to Him with thanksgiving, and peace will seep into your heart and mind!
By the way, when you talk to others about how someone has wronged you and you do it in a spirit of wrath, you spread your evil sin. This is just another sin heaped upon the pile. But consider this if you will Proverbs 27: 15 A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike. What is a contentious woman? One who is "argumentative or quarrelsome; likely to cause contention (that being discord or strife). Discord is "disunity or conflict". However, it is interesting to know that strife is "bitter, sometimes violent conflict or dissension".
I wonder why that is so? I believe that women are much more emotional than men by design. In my humble opinion, I believe that God created women in this manner due to the role He placed her in. A woman, because she is here to serve her husband, family, and home, needs tender feelings and emotions in order to fulfill her role. However, it can be a pitfall as much as a blessing and I believe that is why God cautions women about letting their emotions get our of control, allowing them to rule her life. It is so extremely unbecoming to a woman to behave in such a way. In reality, such behavior is the opposite of the meek, quiet, holy manner in which God instructs His daughters to exhibit. Often, people grow weary of women like this and I have a feeling it isn't so much what she says, rather it is the manner in which it is spoken! A remark can be made softly and gently, in a humble way, or harsh and uncaring, with a prideful, angry tone, and haughty air about her. Sisters, God has given us a warning to watch our attitude and how we respond to all situations in our lives.
Note how that verse compares a contentious woman with a continual dropping in a very rainy day. What is a rainy day like? My immediate thought is that the rain is constant, finally getting to the point of really getting on your nerves. Then I think about how a day of continuous rain makes you feel down and just plain miserable. The day is dark, there isn't much good about it, and it just brings you down. Definitely nothing edifying in it. I flinch inwardly every time I read that verse and wonder how often I have been the contentious woman. Ladies, God placed us in a role of submissive service, commanding us to do it quietly, meekly, and humbly, with shamefacedness. We are to do all things with modesty as the key. When you or I display that contentious spirit, it is nothing short of rebellious disobedience, for we know how the Lord would have our conversation in this life to be.
In closing this portion of the study, I want to mention that when it comes to spreading gossip, especially in an act of wrath, several things occur. First of all, you are seeking your own vengeance, most likely losing your self-control. Secondly, you are not allowing the Lord to carry your burden and give you peace that passes understanding. Then, you are failing to forgive the one who has wronged you. Finally, you are causing others to sin by spreading discord and bitter feelings.
This brings up my next point.
By allowing your wrath to rule your actions, you are living in disobedience to your Father. I hear those minds in motion, wondering what I'm talking about. Very simply, by not applying Ephesians 4:31 in your life, you are living in disobedience.
Ephesians 4: 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Such a simple request from the Lord. And yet we so miserably fail to obey it, allowing our emotions, and ultimately our uncontrolled actions, to run our lives.
We have already explored wrath, so let's take a look at some of these other words so that you can identify some them the next time a situation occurs wherein you may have evil thoughts in your heart toward another. The goal is to avoid allowing anything negative to take hold in your heart. By doing that you will be able to control your tongue!
Anger is "a strong feeling of displeasure". Webster's dictionary goes on to further describe it as "the general term for the emotional reaction of extreme displeasure and suggests neither a definite degree of intensity nor a necessarily outward manifestation". That is something to think on because God tells you to "be angry and sin not". You see, just because you have a strong feeling of displeasure does not mean that you have yet sinned. It is only when that anger is manifested (made obvious; made evident or certain by showing or displaying) that it becomes sin. In that same verse God says not to let the sun go down on anger. Don't give it a chance to grow! I believe that this is why He tells us in Ephesians 4 to put anger away. The longer we hold onto it the bigger it grows, giving it more of a chance of being made evident by a showing of it!
While you are setting aside that anger, God wants you to set aside your bitterness and clamour (noisy shouting; a loud continuous noise). Anything that is bitter is "marked by intensity or severity; exhibiting intense animosity; harshly reproachful; sharp and resentful". Notice how closely related bitterness and wrath are in their meanings. Both suggest such a fierceness and a very strong feeling. What do you often do when you have strong, fierce feelings? You make a loud, continuous noise about it! In a way, this goes back to that contentious woman we have already talked about. Most times when you and I are wronged in some way, we make enough noise to let all around us know about it!
Along with the anger, bitterness, and clamour, God wants you to put away the malice as well. Malice encompasses a broad range of things. In Strong's we see that it is "evil, wickedness, badness, naughtiness; worthless, bad, harm". Webster's gives a more clear meaning. It is "ill will; an intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse." It may imply "a deep-seated and often unreasonable dislike and a desire to see one suffer or it may suggest a causeless passing mischievous (harmful; injurious; able or tending to cause annoyance, trouble, or minor injury) impulse".
Did you know that the word "gossip" isn't even in the King James Bible? Gossip itself merely means "habitual revealing of personal or sensational facts". Well, certainly that fits the bill when you "share" with another the fight you had with your husband last night, the argument you had with someone in the church, or whatever other tidbits of information that would probably be best left unsaid except to the Lord. So, what is God's version of gossip? I believe it would be evil speaking, along with filthy, corrupt communication.
What does it mean when something is evil? As an adjective it makes something "not good morally; inferior". But as a noun, evil is "something that brings sorrow, distress, or calamity". Practically, it is the opposite of holy.
If something is filthy it is "covered with filth (moral corruption or defilement)". Corrupt is to "become tainted (impure) or rotten". In fact, it suggests a change from being good and moral to becoming bad and morally debase. In essence, it is the opposite of pure.
If you search the Bible you will find that purity is very important to God. Paul told Timothy to keep himself pure, not being a part of other men's sins. 1 Timothy 5: 22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure. I like what Webster says about pure. It means being "free from harshness or roughness (recall the definitions of wrath and bitterness and clamour); free from what vitiates, weakens, or pollutes; containing nothing that does not properly belong; free from moral fault or guilt; marked by chastity (that being purity in conduct and intention)." Do evil speaking, malice, clamour, and bitterness properly belong in the lives of God's children?
Look at Titus 1: 15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. The unbelieving man is marked by a defiled (filthy, dirty, unclean, corrupt) mind and conscience. We see in Ephesians 4: 17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
What are the alternatives once you lay aside and put off all of these things we have talked about?
First off all you can see that in lieu of corrupt communications from your mouth, God wants you to speak things that will edify (to instruct/ improve morally, spiritually, religiously) and minister grace to the hearer(s). Ephesians 4: 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Once you have put away your bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking, God instructions are to "be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another". Maybe if you could better understand what those things involve it would be easier for you to obey that verse of scripture.
If you are kind to someone, then you are "affectionate, loving; sympathetic; friendly; forbearing (have patience); gentle; pleasant; agreeable". Add to that tenderheartedness, which is being "easily moved to love, pity, or sorrow; compassionate; soft-hearted". But it means nothing if you cannot "cease to feel resentment against an offender". In other words, you must be able to forgive. Forgiveness towards those who have trespassed against us is God's will!
I must admit that in researching and writing this study, I have noticed some changes in my attitude, thoughts, and behavior towards others already. Mostly I have noticed that before I speak a word about someone else, I am stopping to consider why I am saying it and what is in my heart. Little seeds of kindness, forgiveness, and tenderheartedness have been planted and it is getting easier to love some people who can be somewhat unlovable at times. I pray that you too will soon experience the freedom of unfeigned love for others out of a pure heart. 1 Peter 1: 22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.
Matthew 15: 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
If you stop to think about all the times you speak against another, it all started in your heart. Maybe you are jealous, coveting something they have. Possibly they have wronged you, and as we have already discussed, you seek vengeance out of hurt, angry feelings. The situations could go on and on, but you get the picture.
Do you think that the evil thoughts in your heart and outward manifestation of them please God? I dare say that most of what we speak about others could please the Lord. David said in Psalm 19: 14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Are the words of your mouth acceptable to the Lord? Equally important, since what is in your heart eventually makes it's way to the outside, could you say that the meditations of your heart are acceptable to God?
Maybe in your heart there is not the love for others that should be there. I know that in my own life this is a problem for me. 1 Corinthians 13: 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. God says that the greatest thing is love! How often we neglect to love others, especially those of the household of faith, as we are taught in God's word to do!
Look at the previous verses in that chapter. 1 Corinthians 13: 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Will you agree with me that gossip violates all of these things? Keep in mind it is not the words that you speak that makes gossip such a horrible sin, but rather the evil in your heart!
I believe that when someone has wronged you or I, and we handle it by talking about them to others, we could be vaunting ourselves. That little word means to "make a vain display of one's worth; brag". Notice that puffed up is "to inflate". What are you doing when you tell about a situation that has occurred between you and someone else, and you feel that you have been wronged? You try to make them look bad while making yourself look good! You make a point of inflating your own self-worth! This is the opposite behavior of what the Lord tells you to do. When you vaunt and puff yourself up, you are trying so hard to make yourself look so much better than others, and that is sinful. Take this opportunity to look up the references humble and meek(ness) and compare them to vaunt(ing) and puffed up. Examine your own life and see which best describes your actions!
The other two things I would like to look at here are suffereth long and endureth all things. Just as Jesus suffered long and endured all things for your sake, so you should do the same. Out of a perfect love for us, Christ bore a heavy burden. 1 Peter 2: 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. I believe that if you can learn patience and forgiveness toward others, no matter what they have done to you, then you will not have a problem with inflating yourself. Christ never once inflated Himself, although He was equal with the Father.
Look at this passage in Philippians 2: 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
Vainglory is "self-conceit". Conceit is having "excessive appreciation of one's own worth or virtue"! Now, look at those verses again. You are to do nothing through strife or vainglory. And not only that, but you are esteem others better than yourself, with lowliness of mind. Is that what you're doing when you talk about someone else? Sister, how often do you and I try to make others folks look really bad by talking about them, with the goal we have in mind is to make ourselves look perfect, innocent, and so holy! You and I are to be of the same mind of Christ, making ourselves of no worth!
The next time you are tempted to speak evil out of your heart about someone else, inflating your own self-worth, consider that Christ made himself of no reputation, becoming a servant, humbling himself, living in obedience to the Father. When He finished His work, His Father exalted Him. You, as one of His children, are promised the same thing. 1 Peter 5: 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: That word exalt means "to lift up" according to Strong's Concordance. But in Webster's we get a little more detailed account. It means "to raise in rank, power, or character; to elevate by praise". If you will humble yourself before the Lord, I believe that it brings reward both now and later. Now by increasing your character, and later when He will openly praise you (possibly at the judgement seat when you will receive the rewards for the deeds done in your body).
By the way, humble means "not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive (aren't wrath and bitterness assertive behaviors?); expressing or offered in a spirit of deference or submission". This is the perfect example of Christ that Philippians 2 speaks of. Even though He was equal with the Father, He was not proud, nor haughty about it, neither was He arrogant or assertive. He offered Himself in a spirit of deference. In other words, He yielded to the will of His Father, even though He was the form of God.
Is there war in your heart, while your lips speak soft words? Psalms 55: 21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords. Oh, what hypocrites we can be! Again, it is not the words that you speak that matter, but rather the thoughts and intents of your heart. Jesus said in Mark 7: 20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. How often have you spoken kind words to someone, but all the while there was evil in your heart? It is deceitful to speak words of honey while harboring ill-will and evil thoughts within the heart.
The next time you are tempted to have those evil thoughts in your heart, I pray that the Holy Spirit of God will bring the following passage to your remembrance. 1 Peter 3: 8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile (deceit): 11 Let him eschew evil (shun, avoid, go out of the way of), and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue (press toward, follow) it. Is gossip seeking peace and ensuing it? No, because generally what occurs is the spread of contention and strife, which leads to division.
God has a will concerning all things in your life, and most are laid out in His word. One of the situations He has laid out for you is how to handle transgressions against yourself.
Matthew 18: 15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.
It is really quite simple and self-explanatory. The first step is to confront the person face to face, alone. Again, I believe that you must do it in a spirit of meekness, as in Galatians 6:1. If he hears what you have to say, that should be the end of it. All has been restored. You have gained (won to your side) a brother.
However, if he refuses to hear you, then that is the proper time to involve others. This is not meant to gang up on the other person, but only for witnesses and a record, and then you need only take one or two along. It is only when he continues to not hear what you have to say that you must involve anyone else in the church.
Can you imagine the absence of a majority of the evil speaking, corrupt communication, contention, anger, wrath, and malice that would take place in our Churches today if more people would follow God's way? What forgetful (literally neglectful) hearers of God's word we all are! There have been times when I have followed this path and it has worked out beautifully. I have never had to go past the first step! Unfortunately I have not followed it as often as I could have and the problems, heartache, and sorrow of my neglect are great. We would nip many heartaches in the bud before they had fully "bloomed" if we would apply Matthew 18;15 more often!
The next time someone trespasses against you, don't take the fleshly path of evil speaking! Follow God's perfect way and things will turn out in a more Godly way.
Remember that you have an example in Christ. When you are reviled, revile not again. When you suffer at the hands (or tongue!) of another, do not threaten them. But commit yourself to that righteous Judge. Walk in His steps and let not guile be found in your mouth.
1 Peter 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
Matthew 7: 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
As Christians I believe that God has given you and I the responsibility of approaching another sister in Christ when she is living in sin. But God has given instructions on how to carry this out. We find them in Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. I believe that if you or I fail to carry out God's will concerning the erring sister, we too sin.
However, when I speak of judging another, I am not simply talking about their sin. I refer to something that has already happened within your heart. The word judge in the above passage deals with an opinion of someone that you have already formed within your heart.
The opinion you form concerning another person often has to do with an act or deed they have performed, regardless of if it is good or evil, and is based upon very limited information. In effect what you have done is render an opinion about their motive. This is a sinful practice. Why? Because only God knows what is in the heart of a man. 1 Samuel 16: 7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. Again, you have limited information because all you can see is the outside of a person. Only God has the right to judge what is inward.
The passage goes on to say that whatever standard you use to judge will in turn be used against you! Not only that, but often when we have judged another person it is something minor, and possibly of little significance. But regardless of how "big" or "small" their trespass, you often have even bigger ones in your own life! Face it, you concentrate so hard sometimes on how badly others are conducting themselves that you don't realize you're acting even worse!
But more seriously judge is "to sit in judgement; to decide as a judge; try". Do you have the right to do that? Strong's Concordance uses some very strong terms in defining the term judge. It says it is to "condemn; punish;". Do you or I have the right to take on that responsibility? Not in a million years! Yes, you may determine whether something be right or wrong, but you are never to judge the motive of another nor are you do declare someone guilty and sentence them in your heart. You see, judging also involves inflicting punishment upon another for something they have done. Why is this wrong? Take a look again at the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman that the Scribes and Pharisees dragged before Him. You see, they were ready to inflict punishment upon her. In their hearts they had condemned her. But Jesus would not all them to stone. John 8: 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. As you know, they all dropped their stones and left because they too were guilty of the same sin they were ready to kill her for, and probably a lot more! However, since Christ is the only man who walked on this earth who never sinned, only He has a right to take on such a responsibility. Hebrews 4: 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
So my sister, be careful what manner of thought takes root in your heart towards others.
Titus 2: 3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
I can hear you now, wondering what in the world I am talking about. "I would never tell a lie about someone", I hear you say. I believe that you wouldn't, but have you ever considered how often you have run to someone to "share" some news or other tidbit about another without first checking to see if your "information" is correct? What if what you have told is not true at all, or at the least, not 100% accurate? Be it intentional or not, you have born a false record against someone and that is a sin.
Bearing false witness is a "heart problem" also. Look again to Matthew 15: 17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. You, as a saved woman (or man), can have evil thoughts in your heart and this will defile you. A thing that's defiled is common. Common can mean many things. One of the interesting definitions I came across in Webster's dictionary is "characterized by a lack of privilege or special status; falling below ordinary standards; completely unprincipled". It goes on to say "common implies usual everyday quality".
Considering those definitions, is a Christian common? No. Is a Christian "usual"? No.
A Christian is called by the name of Christ and is called to walk as He walked, following His examples. You, as a child of God, are part of a "peculiar" people. 1 Peter 2: 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Peculiar, according to Webster's, means "belonging exclusively to one person or group; distinctive; different from the usual or normal; special;".
You are royalty, a part of a priesthood, a holy nation. You have been called out of darkness into marvelous light! Most certainly this is a far cry from being common. You, a daughter of the King of kings, the great I AM, are different from the usual! You are special because you belong exclusively to one Person! You are the temple of the Holy Spirit of God! 1 Corinthians 3: 16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Please be careful not to defile the dwelling place of the Spirit of God.
God, in 1 Corinthians 3, warns us to come out from among the lost and be separate. Why? Because they are common and we are not. We are to no longer participate in the former conversation of the old man (Ephesians 4), but are told to put on the new man who was created by God in righteousness and true holiness.
You are no longer common and should not live life contrary to that fact.
Learn to love!
The word love is mentioned 179 times in that form alone in the New Testament. Very obviously it is of utmost importance to our Heavenly Father. In 1 Corinthians 13 it is repeated over and over that without love you are nothing. In 1 John 4, it is twice repeated that God is love! In that same passage it is written that if one loves God, he is to love his brother as well. Jesus said that men shall know that we are His disciples because of the love we have one for another. The very first attribute of the Fruit of the Spirit mentioned is love. God loves us with a great love! Ephesians 5 instructs us to walk in love. Paul encouraged Timothy to follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. In Hebrews we are told to provoke one another to love and good works. 1 John 3 tells us that we may perceive the love of God because He laid down His own life for us! We are told in that same book and chapter "love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth". Finally, in the book of Revelation we see that the Lord rebukes and chastens us because He loves us.
I like what Romans 13:10 have to say: Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. When you speak evil against another I believe that within your heart there is a desire to work ill against them. The next time you are tempted to say something aloud about another, judge your heart to see what is there. How often do you, like me, spout off something about another while there is an intent to in the heart to work ill (harm, evil) to them?
I will confess that loving others is sometimes difficult for me. But by doing this study I have discovered that I have been deceiving myself all this time. How? By saying to myself every time I speak evil about someone that it isn't really gossip, that I was only "sharing" and that I needed "someone to talk to". 1 John 1: 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If I could go back all those times and re-examine my heart, I am afraid that I would be very ashamed at what was there. You see, what I have learned is that it isn't what I am saying that defiles me. It is what is in my heart when I say it. I am afraid that my love isn't perfect yet, but I long to be there one day. May God increase our love for the brethren. Amen.
Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh!
There is a verse in Proverbs that gives good counsel in such matters as "sharing" with others when someone has transgressed against us.. Proverbs 17:9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. In Strong's Concordance I found that the word covereth means "to cover for secrecy; conceal". My, my, my! How many times have I sinned by not covering a transgression against myself? Instead, here I was running about making a clamour about it, stirring up bitter feelings, strife, and contention?
But equally sinful were the times when I tried to cover that sin my evil speaking by doing it in private. Look with me to Proverb 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. God says that one who covers his sin shall not prosper. What else could you call it but covering sin when you precede your words with remarks like this: "Now, don't you tell anybody I told you this" or "Come over here out of the way so nobody can hear what I'm going to tell you" or "Shhh . . . but, did you hear . . .?" Concealing or covering for secrecy is exactly what you and I do when we make comments such as that. We think that if nobody finds out we said, everything is ok. However, we know we said it, our audience knows we said it, and our Lord knows we said it. There is never a sin that truly "done in secret".
Truly, I believe that our tongue is the hardest member of our body to control. Psalm 52:2 Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. 3 Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah. 4 Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue. However, we are instructed in Psalm 34:13 to Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
Although this is more of a task that we realize, it is not totally impossible. Galatians 5:16 gives us hope! This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. A sinner has no choice but to sin. That is his nature. A blood-bought child of God has the ability to walk in his flesh or the Spirit, and verse 17 of that same chapter says there will often be wars in his life between the flesh and Spirit, hindering him from doing that which he knows know is right.
Walk in Galatians 5:16 means "to live; follow; be occupied with". When I read those meanings, I think of "walking in the Spirit" as a way of life or as a means of living. I looked up the word occupy in Webster's Dictionary and it says that it is "to engage the attention or energies of". Surely if you and I focus our attention and energies on the leading of the Spirit within us, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh! There won't be such a problem in taming our tongue.
To assist in better understand what walk means, I also took the time to find out what follow means. Webster's says that it is "to accept as authority; to obey; to copy after, imitate; to watch stedily; to keep the mind on". My sisters, the definition of follow perfectly describes how our relationship with the Spirit that dwells in us should be.
If you and I are to ever have any power in our lives over the flesh, if we are ever going to be able to restrain our tongues, then we must accept the Spirit of God as the authority in our lives; we must keep our minds on Him; we must imitate Him; we must watch Him steadily (in a uniform manner; not interrupted; not fluctuating; constant in feeling; sober).
Do we have any power of our own to overcome the sin of our flesh? No, it is only by His strength that we receive by the Spirit in us that we are able to forsake the guile and evil speaking that comes from our lips and tongue.
I do not know about you, but for me it will take love and walking in the Spirit to help me control my tongue. The next time I am tempted to talk about someone, share about some person who has transgressed against me, or become a busybody, meddling in other mens affairs, I know I will be looking to the Spirit, imitating Him, and examining my love for the person I was about to speak evil about! I hope you will do the same.
Some thoughts on evil speaking
How To Start A Scandal
Take a grain of falsehood, a handful of running about, the same quantity of nimble tongue, a sprig of herb backbite, a teaspoonful of "don't you tell it", six drops of malice and a few of envy. Add a little discontent and jealousy and strain through a bag of misconception; cork it up tight in a bottle of malevolence and hang it out on a skein of street yarn; keep it in a hot atmosphere; shake it occasionally for a few days, and it will be fit for use. Let a few drops be taken before walking out, and the desired results will follow.
From The Sword Of The Lord Book Under Construction by Viola Walden
The thicker our love, the thinner others' faults.
"Don't say it!"
Words are peculiar things. By them, one may become loved and admired; may become despised and over-burdened, clear on out into dark despair. Words may increase appreciation among acquaintances or drive a wedge between friends. If what you have to say cannot be counted on to do somebody some good, don't say it!
The tongue, more devastating than marching armies, more mighty than the mailed fist, more deadly than a serpent's sting, has for all time been man's amazing paradox. Sometimes used both to stir up and reveal sublimest feelings and profoundest thoughts, it is as often employed to the exactly opposite end.
Smite a man with clenched, angry fists; and repentant words will heal the hurt. But smite him with either cruel or careless words, and for that hurt there is healing alone in the forgetfulness of remote tomorrows. Just don't say it!
© 1998 by Julia M. Faulkner